How to Do Time Intervals in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Time intervals in Excel can be a bit tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a breeze. Essentially, you’ll be inputting start and end times into cells and then using a formula to calculate the difference. The result will be your time interval. Ready to dive in and become a time interval pro? Let’s get started!

Step by Step Tutorial: Time Intervals in Excel

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s take a moment to understand what we’re aiming for. In this tutorial, we’ll be learning how to calculate the amount of time that has passed between two specific points in time. Whether you’re tracking hours worked, measuring the duration of an event, or scheduling tasks, mastering time intervals in Excel can be incredibly useful.

Step 1: Input Start and End Times

Type your start time into one cell and your end time into an adjacent cell.

When inputting times, make sure to use a format that Excel recognizes, like “3:00 PM” or “15:00” for 3 PM. If Excel doesn’t recognize the format, it won’t be able to calculate the interval correctly.

Step 2: Use the MINUS Formula

In a new cell, type the formula “=End Time – Start Time” to find the duration.

This formula subtracts the start time from the end time. Excel will automatically recognize this as a time calculation and should present you with the correct interval. Keep in mind that the cell with the formula must be formatted as a time for this to work properly.

Step 3: Format the Result Cell

Right-click on the cell with the formula, select ‘Format Cells,’ then choose a time format.

Excel offers a variety of time formats, from hours and minutes to seconds, or even more detailed formats if needed. Pick the one that best suits your needs for the task at hand.

Step 4: Copy the Formula

If you need to calculate intervals for multiple sets of times, copy the formula down the column.

This step is a timesaver! Instead of typing out the formula repeatedly, simply drag the fill handle (the small square at the bottom right of the selected cell) down to apply the formula to other cells.

Step 5: Check for Errors

Review your results to ensure there are no #VALUE! errors, which indicate a problem with the input format.

If you do come across an error, double-check your start and end times to make sure they’re in the correct format. If they are, make sure your result cell is formatted as ‘Time.’

After completing these steps, you’ll have a clear picture of the time intervals you were looking to measure. You can use these calculations for creating schedules, tracking time, or analyzing data.

Tips for Time Intervals in Excel

  • Always double-check that your times are in a format that Excel recognizes.
  • If you’re working with intervals that cross midnight, make sure Excel is set up to handle 24-hour time calculations.
  • Format your result cells as ‘Time’ before doing the calculations to avoid errors.
  • Use the fill handle to quickly apply your formula to multiple calculations.
  • Remember that Excel stores times as a fraction of a day, so a result of “0.5” would represent a 12-hour interval.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my time interval crosses over midnight?

If your interval crosses midnight, simply input the times as you normally would. Excel is smart enough to calculate the duration even if it spans over two different days.

Can I calculate intervals in seconds or minutes?

Yes, Excel allows you to format the result cell in various time formats, including seconds or minutes. Just choose the format that fits your needs when formatting the result cell.

How can I subtract a time interval from a specific time?

To subtract a time interval from a specific time, use the same minus formula, but ensure that the cell you’re subtracting is formatted as a time interval.

What do I do if I get a #VALUE! error?

A #VALUE! error typically means there’s something wrong with the format of your times. Check to make sure they’re inputted correctly and that Excel recognizes them as times.

Can I add time intervals together in Excel?

Absolutely! Just use the SUM function to add up multiple time intervals that you’ve calculated.


  1. Input Start and End Times
  2. Use the MINUS Formula
  3. Format the Result Cell
  4. Copy the Formula
  5. Check for Errors


Mastering time intervals in Excel can be a game-changer for anyone looking to track and manage their time efficiently. Whether you’re a student, professional, or just someone trying to organize their day-to-day life, knowing how to do time intervals in Excel can help you stay on top of your schedule. Like any skill, it requires a bit of practice, but once you’ve got it down, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. So why not open up Excel and give it a try? With these steps and tips under your belt, you’re well on your way to becoming a time interval whiz. Keep experimenting, keep learning, and remember that Excel is a powerful tool that’s only as effective as the user’s knowledge. Happy time tracking!

Join Our Free Newsletter

Featured guides and deals

You may opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Policy